Monday, November 29, 2010

Snowy travel

We made it safely to the ferry terminal. It was quite the experience towing in heavy snow & ice. Only 5 hours until we can board and then hopefully it's smooth sailing.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snow, Snow & More Snow...

Hmmmm...  Somehow I think that we may have an interesting time getting to the ferry tomorrow as its snowed about 4 inches or so already and below is our forecast....  Keep  your fingers crossed for us!!!!





Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adventures in camping.... COLD weather camping...

Well, we finally woke up to our first official snow that has actually stuck around for the day.  We have forgotten what really "camping" in freezing weather entails...  Glad we only have less than a week remaining.

First of all, have you ever baked bread in a RV?  I decided to attempt to bake a loaf today as I'm bringing some to the Thanksgiving dinner that we were invited to (such great people here in Haines).  Well, I set the frozen dough out in the late morning expecting it to rise in the 4 to 7 hours indicated on the package.  To be honest, the package did state that the time to rise would depend on the temperature of the "kitchen".  Well, almost 12 hours later (after putting the bread directly in front of one of our electric heaters for the entire afternoon and evening), I was finally able to put the bread in the oven.  I haven't cut it yet, but it seems a little hollow.  Hmmm...  lesson learned...  its darn cold in here and bread does not rise when its cold...

As many of you know, we have been without our city water hookup for several weeks (since it started getting cold) so we have been filling up our tanks at least once a week so that we are operating on a limited water basis.  Well, we forgot to fill up on Friday when the office was open, so of course, on Saturday, we ran out.   Hmmm..  Ok...  Problem solved temporarily by filling up plastic containers with water from the office so we can wash dishes, flush the toilet, etc.  The plan was to fill up on Monday.   Well...  After getting the office to turn on their faucets and dragging out our two hoses and having the office drag out theirs, we finally connected all the hoses in the middle of the parking lot and turned the water on...  No wait...  NO WATER...  Hmmm...  would you believe that 3 hoses tied together across an entire parking lot will freeze in less than 10 minutes...  Still no water even today although we are proud owners of 3 hoses in our interior shower so that they warm up and un-freeze.  We will try again tomorrow.  Cross your fingers!!!

And of course to completely top off the day, my wonderful hubby comes home early from photographing the eagles today (no snow at the preserve) and proceeds to inform me that he sat in a dead nasty salmon and then proceeded to sit in the truck.... Yep...  nasty fish guts everywhere...  Well, of course he is in the middle of the preserve, no water anywhere so after spitting on the nasty gluey glob of fish parts, he finally remembers the baby wipes in the truck.  Well at least when he handed me his nasty pants, there were not fishy parts clinging to them, only a VERY NASTY SMELL...  Oh wait...  No water remember...  Off he goes to the office to fill up our water jugs so that I can proceed to wash the nasty fishy smelling pants in the kitchen sink...  Several trips later, we are now proud owners of a pair of ski pants hanging over the shower drying out (with the hoses)...

Whew....  lets hope tomorrow is a bit tamer...  but just in case, I'm starting my Thanksgiving cooking tomorrow as who knows what will happen....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Change of Plans... Again...

Well, its finally getting colder here but we've only had a couple traces of snow that melted quickly.  Our goal has been to be able to photograph the eagles and the lynx in snow, but so far, the weather has been uncooperative. So we changed our ferry to Washington to Nov 29 today.  

We will be here for another 2 weeks then we will be on the ferry for 5 days.  We will land in Bellingham, Washinton, (North of the Olympic penninsula)and then drive for 3 - 4 days (depending on weather) to reach Denver where we will stay for a couple of weeks visiting friends and checking on our houses.  We will then drive to Missouri to spend the Christmas holidays with my family and then on to Houston to spend New Years holidays with Matt's family.  Then on to South Padre Island (Texas) to wait out the winter with some warmer weather (YEAH!!!).

Its amazing here as we continue to watch the eagles come in.  As the weather turns colder and the river begins to freeze, the eagles will converge on a smaller area and will be fishing in the part of the river that does not freeze.  The picture below is pretty typical of what Matt sees each day as he photographs the eagle.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Meet Feisty & Hunter...

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, we visited the American Bald Eagle Foundation to photograph some of their resident owls.  Both Feisty and Hunter were injured and no longer able to survive in the wild so they were brought to the foundation for care for the remainder of their lives.

Here is Feisty.  She is a Great Grey Owl.  Great grey owls are the tallest owls in North America, but will still weigh only about 3 pounds.  Aren't those eyes wonderful????

Next, we met Hunter who is a favorite of one of the interns there.  Hunter is much smaller than Feisty and is a Barred owl. Who couldn't love that face???

Here is Cory (the intern) with Hunter.  What a cute pair.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Haines, Alaska - More Bald Eagles

So we are now in our 4th straight day of heavy wind and rain!!  Everything here is wonderful except the weather, although the locals do say that they can't remember the last time it was this rainy... 

We took a drive today up to the Bald Eagle Preserve (click on the name for more information) to check out the weather conditions (38 degrees & rainy) and the eagles (too many to count).  As we made the drive, I attempted to count the number of eagles that we saw from the road...  Well, after less than 1/4 of a mile, I could not keep up and lost count at over 40 (just in the trees).  We stopped at several of the pullouts to see the eagles in the river flats and in the trees, we estimate that we saw between 500 - 800 eagles this morning.  We are so lucky to be able to witness this, I don't think we'll ever have this type of viewing again...

We also stopped by the Bald Eagle Foundation to drop off some photos we did for them from our photo shoot of the owls yesterday (I'll post some photos of these adorable little guys in a couple of days, especially for you Annie).  We also had the opportunity to be within 5 feet of the new bald eagle, Scotty, that is housed at in the Foundation's mews.  He was received by them about 3 weeks ago and they are in the process of training the injured bird to sit on the glove for educational purposes.  We were able to sit quietly in a corner to watch them train the eagle with his food (rabbit, fish & rat).  It was amazing to be that close to such a large (over 11 pounds) magnificent creature.  Here is a photo Matt took yesterday of the training.

Dan is training Scotty (the eagle) with food incentives to step onto his gloved arm.

Below are some more of Matt's great photos from the past weeks, ENJOY!!!
Take Off. An adult bald eagle takes and heads down river in search of salmon on the Chilkoot river in Haines, Alaska.
Fluffed. As the wind blew on a cold Alaskan day, this eagle fluffed up his feathers on his perch overlooking the Chilkat river.
The Cry. Overlooking the Chilkat river, this bald eagle vocalizes his dominance to the other eagles in the area.
White Tips. After seeing this eagle for three weeks out of photo range, I was fortunate enough to get close enough to get some shots of this beautiful bird. The eagle has a rare pigmentation causing its wingtips to go white, as well as its talons. It is one of the most beautiful birds in flight as the wing tips really accent its motion.  (Same eagle in the next 4 photos)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Haines - Bald Eagles Everywhere

Matt has been very busy this last month with photographing the eagles that converge on Haines each fall.  Here is an explanation from the American Bald Eagle Foundation (click here for more information):
Why Is The Chilkat River So Special?
The natural phenomenon responsible for five miles of open water on the Chilkat River during freezing months is called the “alluvial fan reservoir”. This subterranean reservoir is a result of glacial activity ending 10,000 years ago which forces the water to percolate through coarse alluvial material creating friction which results in a warmer water surface temperature in an area that is, at times, five square miles. As a result, the water surface remains free of ice, thereby permitting the chum salmon to spawn late into the year. This salmon run is the last significant salmon spawning event in North America.

Five species of salmon spawn in these and other nearby streams and tributaries. The salmon runs begin in the summer and continue on through late fall or early winter. The salmon die shortly after spawning and it is their carcasses which provide large quantities of food for the eagles. This combination of open water and generous amounts of food bring large concentrations of eagles into the Chilkat Valley from early October through February, with the highest concentration being in November.
Here are the wonderful photos (I'll have to post them all over several nights as he is way ahead of me and I think the latest number that I heard was 500 gig's of photos!!!).

Dinner on the run. A bald eagle grabs his left over salmon in the Chilkoot river and takes flight.
Don't mess with me. Staring down the camera as a bald eagle holds on to his salmon dinner on the Chilkoot river, Alaska.

Adult bald eagles compete for territory during a salmon run in Haines, Alaska.

A bald eagle takes flight as a juvenile eagle looks on in the background.
A bald eagle lands in the Chilkoot river, Alaska with his razor sharp talons extended and six foot wing span slowing him down.
Flaps Down. A bald eagle braces for landing in the Chilkoot river, Alaska. Eagle can have wing spans as large as seven feet, and razor sharp talons that can produce 500 PSI crushing power.
Stretching out for a soft landing. An adult eagle slows down from his 30 mph cruise raise for a gentle touch down on a rock in the Chilkoot river.
An adult eagle tries to steal a salmon from a young bald eagle by intimidation. Instead of giving in, the youngster lets out a defiant whale holding his ground.
Attack on the Chilkoot river in Haines, Alaska. A juvenile bald eagle intimidates an adult into submission with his sharp talons extended.
Gliding along. This eagle with talons stretch out, is looking for the perfect rock to land on.
Territorial Combat. These two adult bald eagles fight for rights for a left over salmon in Haines, Alaska.
An in flight grab of dinner on the Chilkoot river in Haines, Alaska
Cuddling Couple. A pair of bald eagles nestle in a tree together on the Chilkoot River in Haines, Alaska.
A pair of bald eagles nestle in a tree together on the Chilkoot River in Haines, Alaska.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Haines, Alaska

Well, its official, I paid for the ferry trip out of here on the 15th of November today (GULP!!!).  We will board the ferry on the afternoon of the 15th and arrive in Bellingham, Washington (near the Olympic pennisula, north of Seattle) on the morning of the 19th.  We are a bit nervous of how we get the trailer on the ferry as the Skagway ferry required the RV to be backed onto it (YIKES).  We are enjoying our time here, but definitely ready for some better (and warmer) weather. 

We have a couple of weeks to explore somewhere in Washington and Idaho (please let me know if you have any recommendations) before we head into Denver for a couple of weeks stay to visit friends and check on our homes.  We are then off to visit family for the holidays with stops in Missouri for Christmas and Houston for New Years.  We will then take a side trip to Chicago with Matt's family before heading south to South Padre Island, Texas, to hopefully soak up some warmer weather and sun!!!

Its been rainy and windy here today so we've been enjoying the comforts of the RV.  Below is a picture that Matt took of this beautiful place when the weather was clearer (a couple weeks ago).  If you look closely, you can actually see the RV on the waterfront.  The snow line is actually much lower now as this latest storm lowered the snow level to 500 feet.  We are thinking we won't be snow free here on the water front much longer.

This is such a nice friendly town, we will definitely miss it (but it will be nice to actually be able to buy something you need in a store instead of mail ordering it).  I will share some more eagle shots tomorrow with you.